House passes Paulsen’s sex trafficking bill

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s bill meant to change the way states treat minors who are victims of sex trafficking easily cleared the U.S. House on Tuesday.

Paulsen’s bill — similar to one introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the Senate — would encourage states to adopt “safe harbor” laws that treat minors who are trafficked as victims rather than criminals, giving them access to rehabilitation services and removing the threat of prosecution. Minnesota is one of only a dozen states in the country to have a safe harbor law.

Lawmakers passed Paulsen’s bill on a unanimous voice vote. Four other bipartisan sex trafficking bills — with goals as varied as providing support for victims to cracking down on international trafficking — are up for a vote Tuesday night and should likely pass easily.

“The House is talking action, and we will make a difference and we will save lives,” Paulsen said.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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